Sunday, December 25, 2005

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Festivals are times of gaiety, joy, love and laughter. They shouldn't make you feel scary, should they?

That's what Christmas makes you feel here in the UK. My third one as yet and I don't understand how people could totally shun the streets and public spaces. Here they stay at home with the family ALL day. No wonder it is a stressful time for everyone. You have to visit people you just about get along with (parents, relatives) and then spent ALL day with them, pretending to have fun. That must be a torture.

Anyway, you can't do anything outside the home. The shops are closed, the buses, trains, movie halls, restaurants. You can't even fall ill, the hospitals are closed. My nephew had a hard time getting proper treatment.

I like Diwali much better. People just descend on the streets in droves and its so lively and energetic. It feels like the most important festival for us. Christmas pales big time in comparison. It only surpasses Diwali in terms of commercialization.

Some more vitality and less commercial approach would do wonders to the Christmas spirit.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Babuwaa, kaunsi film dekhat ho

News about Bhojpuri films makes me immensely happy.

Lets have more regional films. Even if their standards are not worth the posters they are adverstised on. People need choice.

Hindi films are not longer representative of the pan-Indian culture. They are more about NRIs or yuppies who use Hindi to talk English with the rest of their folk. The milieu in the modern Bollywood film is always alien to most of India (set in Australia, US, UK or impossible mansions if in India). You may be able to survive through multiplexes and through international revenues, but the most of India will reject these films for not being representative of them. You disregard what you don't understand.

But its quite funny to know foreign babes are playing in Bhojpuri films. Amazing.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Review of browser

Cnet - review of year news - has more about Net browsers than anything else. IE moving towards RSS and tabbed browsing. RSS to be part of Longhorn in a big way.

News is here

Middle click is an extremely useful facility of Firefox. But its not as if its massivley better than IE. I have written about that earlier 1,2,3,4

But, in spite of not being on client standard list of tools, I am taking considerable risk and using it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Constant Gardener in India

Pharmaceutical companies rush to try experimental medications on India's never-ending supply of poverty-stricken test subjects. Welcome to the real world of The Constant Gardener.

More here

Sunday, December 18, 2005

King Kong

King Kong is too much of everything. A cornucopia of thrills, emotions, suspense, sfx, larger than life characters. You name it, you have it. Still, it works. Because, Peter Jackson audaciously aspires to remind the audience of what movies are or were really meant for. Movies meant passion and drama and emotionally wrought and over the top sequences. But, its no longer cool to make movies like that and fair enough. That was a phase then, but now the dialogues, the acting, the story, everything is more true to life (even in the case of sci-fi). So, when Peter Jackson attempts to make a film in the old style of film making, he is taking enormous risks. He could easily invite ridicule from the critics, who could easily pounce on him and pronounce LOTR as a fluke (after all it was shot as a single movie).

But Peter Jackson just gets away with it with vitality and humour, not seen on the screen for sometime now.

Read A O Scott's fantastic review here

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I am mainly happy too!

Hope to see her in Paris during the new year's.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Crap in .doc format

I have always believed that life is more colorful, glorious, dangerous and generally eventful than fiction. It's just that, we fail to notice all the shades, because we are so used to the daily existence.

Now look at this project I am working in. Guess my employer. Call it A. Gas my client. Call it B. B is one part technology department BC and one part business BB.

A, my Indian employer has made inroads into BC. Few supports projects we executed and now we have this new project, where we (A) are responsible core design. A design team that has BC original employees only on the fringes. Even the technical management is done by A. Ignore the fact that, if we had a rotten egg sitting on the Work Packet Manger (technical manager)'s seat, it would stink lesser. (While eating namkeen I pronounced myself 'Chivda Packet Manager' and promised better distribution and management of chivda during office breaks).

Enough digression! So, we are directly talking with BB, analysing the requirements (a day before high level design delivery) and are quite happy with the relationship.

But the story has a flashback. This project is second in the series of projects. Hence heavily borrows from its predecessor. A macabre design, horribly executed (change requests taken up ad-hoc during EVERY stage of the project). And something that the users didnt want in the first place. The BC wants us to stick to the 'legacy' of this first project. So, that they can show BB and all others in B, that A is not doing anything new, that we have it made and we are not capable of doing important stuff as design.

Sidetrack - BB is ambivalent about it because the design approaches don't concern them greatly as long as we deliver what the users want. More important for BB is that we stick to design delivery deadlines and hence, any fresh, enhancements we have (I as a data modeling guy have major issues with existing database design) cannot be pushed through, because of strict timelines. Performance issues, tacky design, everything comes out of the woodwork only during testing and right now, the main goal is delivery.

Add to it, the spinelessness of us desi guys. If BC throws roadblocks in our path, they have a clear motive. To discredit A's design team and thus oust A from BC completely. Already BC pit bulls have started hounding us with even slight deviations in design. A's design lead team haven't yet given to their pressure, but you imagine them constantly leaning and bowing when BC guys are giving them a earful. Already some substantial enhancements have been shot down, under the guise of lack of time. You see, it makes sense, saves ass, if you work on crap that exists. You can blame BC later on for what went wrong. It is a typical desi approach of doing things - not sticking your neck out FOR WHAT'S RIGHT.

So, here we are, as I said, playing, flapping, mucking about in crap, glorious crap. All our design is crap in .doc format.

And it fucking makes me angry

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Worth the while?

I am sitting in the train, typing this out. Train from York to Norwich. Has sort of become my weekly grind. Almost every week, I go up (its north) to York, we keep discussing the requirements (even though we are half way past the macro design stage) and the BAs come up with a whole new set of requirements. PMs should be getting hyper about this kind of stuff, but well, they don't. Apart from stringent deadlines we are also supposed to follow the architecture of earlier release. A release that was again built on top of sketchy requirements. The users look at the reports from Release 1 and go "Well, I didnt ask for that."

A lot of new stuff came out in the discussion, but the design and the management team have decided, that since we don't have time, we will build on the poor existing discussion. Any enhancements. we will deal in the next release. Now, each release sort of is dependent on the previous and so, its difficult to get away from any shoddy piece of work earlier. Coz this is a data warehouse we are talking about, normalized system, where probably, we still have isolated bits of systems that don't impinge on each other.

Essentially, we are losing a chance here to stop or extend the design and revisit the architecture bit and set it right, before its too late. And I think, we will lose that chance.

The more you work, on a project like this, the more disappointed and disillusioned you get (The good-for-nothing project lead aptly asked during the closure "Have you lost the will to live?"). You can't really blame anyone individual, coz everyone is culpable. You just want to do the right thing, but you can't, coz of all these constraints and you feel "Is it worth my time?"

"Is this something, I should care for at all?".

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Learning new tricks

It gets dark by 4 pm here. Not that, it's sunny the rest of the time. It's like the day is fighting an eternal war against the forces of darkness. To get people out on the streets, they (forces of market) have taken the complete patronage of Christmas. There is light, glitter and decoration everywhere. Big Discounts and Huge marketing is the flavor of the season. People out in droves just shopping for gifts. The erstwhile religious occasion has been totally hijacked by the marketeers and has falling prey to consumerism big time (Diwali is on the way!).

Anyway, with the dreadful weather, how are people supposed to come out at all? So, I would understand the predicament of the high street. And anyway, all this melaa like atmosphere redolent of joy, love and expensive gifts, warms the cockles of everyone around.

As a part of the festivities, there is ice-skating rink setup in front of forum. Was there yesterday for the second time. Its fun ice-skating. To begin with, you are a uncontrollable mess of limbs. You try to balance yourself, one slippery step at a time, hands spreadeagled, grabbing the railing. But it doesnt last long. Your body tilts back, then front and sideways, everyone around you moves away, your legs furiously trying to be grounded. But the inevitable happens. You fall with a thud.

You get up and see all the people moving gracefully around and try to do the same thing. Imitate their moves. But your legs don't move. It just feels so hard. The surface is hard when you fall so badly

But, it happens for only about 1st half hour of your session. Slowly, you get the hang of it and you float around. Its just such a wonderful feeling to just glide, achieve a sense of complete control over your limbs and then play around.
Having done it about 4 times, I can say, that I am comfortable skating now. I am not a complete pro but its fun. Obviously, I would love to do it effortlessly, probably will happen over a period of time.

Swimming has been a different ball game altogether. After having done it at IIT (though just for a month), I totally lost touch. After 2 sessions here, manage to float for about 5 feet, but then either am out of breath or strength.

With a skill, the obvious thing is that you learn it faster and better as a kid (except sex, wherein you havent got the necessary tools as a child). As an adult, you are taught the techniques, but with such massively sprawled appendages and unwieldly body, which has not been put to proper use for a long time, its difficult to control your motor functions. Everything is so massively taxing on your body. Your brain needs to be rewired again.

Right now, I am smelling of chlorine (something like bathroom bleach), but I think I need to bear the stink to feel and act like a fish in water.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Nice test

Yesterday had data modeling test. Well, have been working in dwh for long, but havent taken any certification exam so far. Actually the test is meant mainly for employees undertaking data modeling training (7 day) at Bangalore, but it is open for anyone interested. Since I had nothing better to do, I gave it for a lark.

The good part is that it is open book, open web test. They email you the question sheet, you write the answers, and submit through email as attachment. You are ofcourse not allowed to copy from fellow examinees or discuss. You are allowed to use data modeling tools like ERWin. The test duration is 1.30PM GMT to 8.30PM GMT.

The questions are extremely subjective and you need to prepare elaborate ER diagrams to answer them. The first quesion itself took me 2 hours to answer. All the books I has were no use, coz you can just answer it based on your previous knowledge and experience. There isnt one right answer, but whatever you answer, you need to be able to justify it easily.

Anyway, I made my submission on the dot at 8.30PM GMT. I don't want to hazard a guess as to how I did on the test. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

However, the whole experience was extremely satisfying. No pressure first to take the exam. You allowed to choice to answer whichever way you want (handwritten, ppt based, word doc). Access to all possible info (through web). So, you don't need to know everything about data modeling. You just need to know where everything about data modeling is. Also, since it was so long and exhausting, there was a sense of achievement at the end.

I just hope I don't fail!

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Someone emailed Mitrauk group, about whether should speak to our kids in Marathi and whether it is really important.

My emotional rambling argument is here. I don't think I answered his question in any significant way, but my opinion is all there in full-force

I think it is not important just to speak the language. I converse with family and friends in Marathi, but when it comes to expressing ideas, or thoughts or arguing an opinion (to differentiate from normal or daily chit chat), most of us fall back on English. If not completely, atleast, the most important/operating words are in English. (Picture kaay superb hota, Mi tyalaa etiquettes cha study karaylaa sangat hota, Language var control naahi)

What we have of Marathi is just basic grasp of the language. And I wont say, this basic grasp of language is enough to keep us bounded to Marathi identity. May be we are just hanging on to the last vestiges of Marathi-banaa.

When we lose a language, we lose everything associated with it progressively. How does one appreciate bhondla, bhaktisangeet, santanche bol. How does one understand Mahonar's poetry. But it would be difficult for us to do that, when the meaning is lost. When meaning is lost, the interest is lost. The quest for knowledge continues, but the we turn to things foreign. There is no one to blame, just coz the setting we are in. There is no incentive for knowing your roots.

Humour is the most delicate manifestation of mastery over the language. So, quality of humour is marred if you dont know the language inside out. In India, most of the Bollywood writers are non-Hindi speaking (most would be Punjabi now speaking English off-work). So subtle sense of humour has never been the mainstay on Indian celluloid or idiot box (we are just masters of farce and pjs). Humour or not, the current output in popular media (tv, films, books) is sub-standard and we are more pushed towards far superior English alternative.

I am not arguing against English or anything. I just think, we are too well versed in it. We are too well prepared to take on the world. This command has come at a cost of local language and identity and I resent that, we don't do anything about it.

It could be helped. Read more Marathi stuff. Make sure you get Marathi books from back home. Atleast identity your vegetables, food, masale, in proper Marathi.
Use askhalit (I hope thats right) Marathi as much as possible (avoid calling mobile Dhawnibhramanika or some such).

Only Indians mock other Indians who speak shudh bhasha. We should be ashamed to do otherwise.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Another one bites the dust - A Satyendra Dubey

Samples fail test, pump owners kill fuel inspector


Posted online: Tuesday, November 22, 2005 at 0146 hours IST

NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 21: An Indian Oil Corporation sales manager was shot dead last Saturday by the owners of an Uttar Pradesh petrol pump whose operations were suspended for a month in September after its fuel samples failed quality tests.

S Manjunath, 27, a computer engineer and an MBA from IIM, Lucknow, was shot six times by the son of the owner of the Mittal Automobiles pump when he went there to inspect fuel quality. The petrol pump had reopened only last month.

Pump employees who were nabbed by police while trying to dispose of Manjunath’s body admitted that Monu, son of pump owner Sulakshan Mittal, had killed the sales manager.

The employees were passing through Mohali in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district around 1.30 am when police stopped them.

The driver of their vehicle sped away instead and it was only when police caught up with the car that they found Manjunath’s blood-splattered body on the backseat.

Driver Vivek Sharma confessed that Monu had directed him and pump attendant Rakesh Anand “to put the corpse in the dead man’s Maruti and dump it at a desolate area on GT Road”, the FIR filed by Mohali police says.

Police say seven people have been named in the conspiracy to murder Manjunath. ‘‘Four people have been arrested, but prime accused Monu and his father are absconding,’’ said a police official

IOC chairman Sarthak Behuria said Manjunath’s body was flown today to his relatives in his hometown Bangalore. He added that Mittal Automobiles’ dealership has been terminated and IOC officials in Uttar Pradesh had asked for more protection for its sales officers.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Writing movies

Saw The Constant Gardener. With time, the memories fade. I thought I had read the book, by John Le Carre (I thought it was to do with espoinage). Haven't. The movie is a fabulous understated and a moving love story executed with verve, panache and depth.

You can see the glimpses of restlesness and portentousness (my word) that you caught in City of God. Same director- Fernando Meirelles. It's the hints and the foreboding that is scary than actual images and the movie constantly leaves you guessing as to what's to come next. The character of Tess (Rachel Weisz) is extremely well etched.

But inspite of the fabulous red herrings and intrigue, ultimately, it is a fine love story with a message - how the world uses Africa as a Guinea Pig.

Two more movies to catch - Rebecca and Rashoman. It's 5.56 pm and pitch dark already.

There are few things that you can do in the English winter.

For a better review go here

P.S. Dialogue of the day

Justin - "How can I take you to Kenya? We hardly know each other"

Tessa - “You can learn me”

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

PM Horribilis

This post is continuation of the negatively perceptive post.

The mumbler - I know the reason why the manager such a bizarre breed. I know, with your peers, you can blast or put them down if they talk non-sense. Managers, they are paid to talk non-sense and as a self-worth preserving defence mechanism, have deceived themselves into believing that the non-sense is actually Uber-sense.
Anyway, meet Exhibit A - As most Indian IT managers, not good at expressing and putting coherent English sentences together. This precludes him from driving an argument/making a point in a meeting or conversation. So, in an effort to make people aware of his holy existence and Understanding, he will make mumbling noises throughout a meeting/conversation. He will go "Yeah, Yeah" "Rigggght", "Nooooo", just above his breath. In the same manner, he, the gecko will play an echo

Someone - "The impact on design will be negative"

Gecko - "...Will be negative"

Someone - "The scope creep will invariably throw our schedule haywire. This is a serious matter."

Gecko - "Riggght...serious matter".

The lost summer - Nothing to do with English weather. A manager who can't express himself coherently is extremely dangerous. He has his authority constantly trampled upon (others fill in, when he is literally searching for words), is not confident at decision making, will always lose his arguments and that makes him a highly insecure, sorry figure. Anyway, our word-starved guy is further handicapped by his short attention span. So, when you ask him what's his take on the whole thing, he says "I don't know what to say". This, in his case, is the ultimate truth.

Like Exhibit A, he has invented a way to convey that he is on top of his game. He is our ultimate summer. Once a important point is made, he will pop in trying to sum the idea, using the few jargon that he clings on to (because he can't remember anything else) but getting it all wrong.

Someone - "The document will be used to raise issues with the business users"

Summer (addressing the group, pompously) - "This is some sort of a tracebility matrix"

(actually it's a query tracker)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Lonely, I am

I can't say I have been busy, just travelling and lazy. Work is on the up, which is just as well. Was off to York for 3 days and fortunately am back with a pain in the neck, unlike last time, wherein it lasted for a week and had me looking like a robot.

It's getting colder now and it no longer feels autumnal, though there was something about October 27 big the hottest since ages. Bones start creaking in the morning and you already feel old.

Unlike some lucky people back in India, I celebrated my Diwali in a hotel.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Drop your guard

Growing old is tough. You have all these beliefs, opinions, prejudices, experiences that keep piling on to the baggage that is you. The baggage just keeps growing. You learn a lot of things, think in a certain way, are moved by certain things and work in a certain manner. Not everyone is going to operate in the same manner. There will be certain disagreements amongst people. Older people really dislike people who disagree with them.

Actually, I don't know if we are fine with that even when we are younger. Even then, we want things to happen our way. Only thing is that your baggage is less. You are still learning and exploring. New experiences is what you seek and most people at that age will answer a call from the unknown.

But then, you grow older and wiser. Actually, less stupid. But people don't believe that (that we just grow less stupid). We really think we are smarter than the rest. We think we have seen and done it all. Try new things, why? You might die doing something you haven't done repeatedly for all your life. Repetition is good. Monotony rules.

Because of our baggage, we are willing to give new ideas less chance. Differences lead invariably to conflict, even without any preliminary effort to seek knowledge from them. I don't like your opinion, so I don't like you. It's not even a question of you want to do things differently, but WHY do you want to do things differently. Can't we stick to our plan? Our well-rehearsed routine boring plan.

Part of it, is down to the fact that like kids in cars, we are in a hurry to get there. The journey is not important. Only the destination is. Literally, during our tours, we are in a hurry to cover locations. We have a perfect term for it. Point. Maine ye point cover kiya. Matheran main 6 point hai, dekhe kya? But what did we do there? How long were you there? Did you enjoy being there? Did you learn anything new?

A while ago, I was at an Indian classical music workshop (unfortunately my only one) and the lady conducting the session told us something that I will never forget. "Drop you guard".

Our baggage justs stops us from that. In fact, drop your guard equals drop your baggage. Give in to the moment. Because of the fact that we are not in the moment whole-heartedly, we don't allow the experience to soak in. We have already decided that this new thing we are doing, isn't worth our time. So, let's get it over and done with and move on to the next new thing. The cycle repeats.

Only when you drop your guard, can you allow a sense of wonder to fill in. Let what you are doing, where you are, shape the moment. Not how you feel about it. That you can dissect later. Right now, just enjoy the fact that life is doing something wonderful to you.

I also went to London this weekend.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Marathi baana

Maharashtrian entrepreneur is an oxymoron, which has stood the test of time. Marathis are known to limit themselves to vada-pav gaadis, khanaval, catering (bhaaji poli), selling agarbattis and kalnirnay calendars. I dont know what it is about us, that makes the breed so risk averse.

I mean, that the whole people in a particular geographically demarcated area should be satisfied with doing dreary babu-work (and actually covet jobs as a clerk), and be jealous of his jaat-bhaai's success and wealth.

So, this is good news. May more entrepreneurs be spawned by this initiative. Let Marathi bandhav and bhaghini not think about job security, karmachi fale (fruits of karma) and fling away any fear of failure.

Now, one (one because I know only one person who reads my blog) would say "Why don't you quit your job?"

Well, my family astrologer has told me that I am not business type. If I start a dhanda, it will not succeed (my sister was thought to be very shrewd and business-minded). I should not be trusting him much, because his prediction about my marriage didn't come true. But still I am wary.

But seriously, since their is enough financial security going (the 2-b-wife can earn), I am inclined to quit and go lurking into the unknown.

Don't know when. Dont know if.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Resolved by Biztact

Due to Amish's untiring efforts, finally blogger issue is resolved.

The support from blogger has been non-existent.

Understand that it is free, but once you have tried all you can to fix the problem and still not able to find a solution, you would expect some help from the blogger tech support.

Seems like the problem was with the Hindi fonts and for some reason, the publishing would get stuck at a certain percentage.

Will be back to blogging soon.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Blog down!

Blog is not working. I can't post. I can't republish. Blogger people wont reply to e-mails. When would it get solved? Just waiting!

Friday, October 07, 2005

I made it

I dont know how I made it here. But Amish, here is our 5 minutes in the 0.5 watt limelight.

Thanks Heather for the info

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What did I say?

Today HT headlines bestows upon Mumbai the honor of being amongst the least liveable cities. Clap clap, clap slap, slap slap!!.

FORGET SHANGHAI, Mumbai ranks just above Bogota, Tehran, Dhaka and Lagos: the worst cities in the world as far as liveability is concerned. A new survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) assessing the "liveability" of 127 cities worldwide has found that Mumbai is among the most wretched cities.

My proposal for "Resurrection of Mumbai". Meanwhile, run while you can. Practise in the 2006 Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Sky-Dive No 1.

Saw "Howl's Moving Castle" this Saturday. Weird, convoluted still magical, in its own way.

Have seen Spirited Away earlier by the same director Hayao Miyazaki

Sunday, my first tandem-jump from 10000 feet. A slow ascent in a small plane with 10 of us cramped in. Then a push and 1 mile of free vertical fall into the clouds below. 15 ft/s of descent with the parachute open. Wasnt that scary at all. Obviously, I will do more jumps - tandem or solo sky-dives. One of the reasons is that my first one wasnt so perfect. Got sick on the way down and it wasnt pretty.

Damn those chips, which I hastily wolfed down before the flight!

Uncle Sam Mange more

Bush asks Americans hesistantly to cut down on petrol. And the whole thing is so tentative and feeble. We don’t want Americans to think, we want to save environment, do we? I mean, reduce consumption and think about ecological balance. How BS is that.

What is with the Americans? Before Bush administration, the number of SUVs in US was 2 million. Now it is 80 million. That is a startling figure. Petrol and gas is a scarce natural resource and the path to tread is to adopt technologies that embrace eco-friendly sources of energy AND stem the excessive consumption of fossil fuels. Not ply to office through monstrous traffic jams in a fuel-guzzling beast.

Just look at the cockiness of this…

In 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney said, "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it cannot be the basis of a sound energy policy." Also that year, Ari Fleischer, then Mr. Bush's press secretary, responded to a question about reducing American energy consumption by saying "that's a big no."

"The president believes that it's an American way of life," Mr. Fleischer said.

I believe this partly is a problem with capitalism. There are great benefits and advantages that stem for this ideology. It encourages healthy competition, innovativeness, allows corporations to bring out products that make life easier and simpler. It promotes new ideas, wealth and prosperity.

But we also have to realise that a free market is essentially a run-away engine. It feeds on MORE. To keep growing the businesses, the consumers need to consume more and for that, you need to push your products more.

Yes, things do get cheaper, but that is a problem. There is an alarming tendency to flog and use items in a dispensible manner. Case in point is Primark, the largest clothes retailer on the UK high street. You get good quality shirts for £4, trousers for £10, undergarments for £3. Prices continue to drop, because though Primark maintains a decent quality, it continues to source material from cheaper suppliers all over the world. Add to that, you have innovation in fabric technology - so you have clothes made of teflon and acrylic. What this actually promotes is use of clothes as a readily disposable commodity. I mean, you just buy whole lot of stuff during one shopping spree (I couldnt find a fitting room after 30 min wait) and if the clothes don't fit, just throw them away. Wear it once, it feels outdated, go buy new stuff.

Marketeers are brain-washing the consumers into instant outdated-ness. They will tell you that the clothes you bought today are so out of fashion and you have to get rid of them NOW. Creating micro segments in every category so even in clothes, you have party-, evening-, casual-, sports-, outdoor/picnic-, formal-wear. Some of it is understandable, but imagine a few years ago, where was the thrust to own such a variety of clothing? It's not so much that a market exists for niche or unconventional pursuits, rather, it is created, nurtured and encouraged to keep the sales coming in.

Because of massive choice for the buyers, the manufacturers have to be innovative and invent new ways to attract customers. This is great as we get some innovative products that are genuinely useful. But many a times, its the same wine in different bottle. Packaging costs more than the products these days. Then, the quest to sell more and more to keep growing. 3 for 2 offers, 30 % extra, £5 off if we spend £100 or more and so on. The consumer is constantly "asked" to buy more to get a feeling that he is saving. Actually, most things he thus buys rot in his fridge or closet.

My grouse is essentially there is mindless exploitation of natural resources to feed the sophisticated tastes of this generation. That we can afford them doesn’t justify its use. Because, of the economic and the political clout, most of the environmental cost (of manufacturing and waste-disposal) is borne by the poor countries. But, how long can we stay insulated in such a globally connected world - physically as well as electronically. Smog from Chinese mainland regularly slips over HongKong casting a gloomy shadow over the newly opened Disneyland.

Capitalism equated to consumerism is unsustainable. There are riches that we fail to explore as we live today, before we jump on to newer quests and want newer things (peddled by the market forces) from life. The want for more will surely pave the way for the inevitable, sooner than expected.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Dont touch me, naaaiyo baby

Aale aale aale aale. Aaaaa... Aaaaa...Kon ey.. kon ey. Aa..Aa. Mumummmm have tulaaaaaaaa.

Well, speaking to a baby in this manner is not acceptable anymore. Its violation of human rights. Or so a hospital in the UK thinks.

Well, according to the hospital, babies also have a sense of personal space. I think, they mark their personal space by peeing and shitting incessantly

Friday, September 23, 2005

28... Up, I think

Was watching this program 49 Up on ITV. It is a documentary tracing the lives of participants since they were 7 years old, at every 7 years interval. So you had 7 up, 14 up and so on. It is aired every 7 years and right from the start, the interviews have been conducted by Michael Apted, now a reputed Hollywood director.

You see one of the kids in the 7 Up program saying that he is going to study in Trinity College, Cambridge and then in 14 Up, that he wants to be solicitor. He does both. Many others don't make it. A few just opt out of the documentary (for the fear of humiliation). One of the participants wanted to be an Electrical Engineer. But goes on to work on shop floor. At 21, he has a desire to better his life and wants out of the job. At 28, he says, whats the point. Now at 49, he is mellow, calm and mostly content, though, looking back, certainly, there will be regret - what happened to all those dreams?

It is quite sad, how your life has a life of its own. The fire in you diminishes and you just give up in the face of the daily drudgery and a barely adequate existence.

I wish, somone back home had taken snapshots of lives of close ones - making them talk earnestly into the camera. Capturing their likes, dislikes, expectations, dreams. Asking them if they are content? Has it all gone well? Could it have been better, if they had tried just a little bit more?

What I have of me is just some hazy, superimposed memories. I would have liked to know how I really was.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Picture perfect

A picture, I took at Sheringham from the sea-cliffs looking on towards Sheringham Park. Evokes images of an idyll world only present in story books and kiddie songs (I am reminded of Chuk Chuk chuk aagin gaadi)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Negatively perceptive

There's lots that you can observe when you work when different teams at odd times, in different locations. And the fun part is, as people become old, they become weirder. Hence more to notice and note.

1. A guy at my office, uses the keyboard with both hands at right angles to each other. Imagine the right hand, quite where it is supposed to be. But the Index finger of the left hand is on Z, middle finger on A and the ring finger is on Q. So the right hand is forced to dance everywhere on the keyboard, while the other hand is left guarding two most unused alphabets of the English language from further abuse.

2. At Accenture, one of the guys at work had curly hair. Not just normal curls. If you had just seen his hair walking about, you would have thought he was black. Well, one hell of a parched dry, frizzy and untamed hair. At about 2-3 pm, he would take out a huge comb, and start the combing operation.



It was a brand new sandpaper trying to a smoothen a rocky face. "Be very frayed" say my nerves.

3. Another quite nice guy unfortunately had a major jaw problem due to the randomly arranged teeth (now whom does that remind me of). Anyway, while speaking, he was a Satish Shah in Main Thoo Na. Esp, during telecons, it was just hilarious to watch the phone digits getting sprayed with spittle. He would sheepishly wipe out the wet-spots (which is now leading to tides eroding our shores, just to put things in perspective) to expel more bodily fluid (Eeks!)

4. A manager that suddenly goes Khhhhhhhhhwwaaa. KhwwWWWaaaAAA... during meetings. I sympathise. He is actually clearing his throat off a dinousaur bone that accidently got wedged in his wind-pipe during one of his earlier births as a cave man. He was digging a hole for himself (a cave) and a whole fossil colony of dinosaurs dropped on him. As the ricketing mass of bones fell, he 'gaped' in horror.

5. A guy called GLN, used "Actually, OK" (together) as punctuation marks and more. He began, ended and interspersed his sentences with liberal doses of "Actually OK".

"Actually OK this project needs to Actually OK have 2 resources. But, Actually OK, we will have to use Actually OK only one. Actually Ok you are that only one actually OK. So actually OK best of luck actually ok to you." (note that there are no punctuation marks before and after actually ok which is a sic).

Can't I take pride on being perceptive? I am sure somewhere, one of my collegues is making a list, chronicaling my idiosyncracies exclusively.

More captain quirks to follow. KhhwwwWWWaaaaaa..

Dance with me

Saturday 10th - 10.45 pm -1.20 am - Lava Discotheque (Norwich Riverside) -
On the dance floor was a man in a sophisticated wheelchair. Sort of that needed for people with Motor Neuron disease. Accompanying him a woman, who seemed like someone with Down Syndrome's. That she was taking care of the guy meant her condition wasnt too serious.

10.45 is pretty early to get rocking anyway. The man was just taking in the sights from one corner of the dance floor. Slowly, the crowds swelled. Swaying hips, jangling bottles, wicked smiles. Men who can't dance. Insatiable women. Our man and his companion disappeared from sights. Sweltering bodies and a thousand groping hands blocked their view.

Suddenly, I saw them again. At the same spot. The man nodding his head to the furious beats. May be his body was also rocking, we don't know. My friend, Deepak would go and dance in front of him. Not mocking at him. But to dance with him.

You just can't dance alone all the time, can you? But you sure can dance with your feet off the ground.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Firefox-more updates

1. Crashes on e-paper Hindustan Times window. Go to Mumbai e-paper. Click on any news item, try to close the new window. Crash! (BTW, what technology is it. ASP, Java.. like that?)

2. Firefox wouldnt open orkut (which has google alliance!) properly on Login page! I cant check now, coz access to orkut is (and personal sites)are banned)

3. In IE Ctrl + N facility opens a new browser window, reloading the page as well. In Firefox, havent found this functionality either with Ctrl+T or Ctrl+N

My very few and very petty grouses against Firefox.

Horsing around

This weekend, been to Horsford. Not a spectacularly beautiful place. But the journey was fantastic.

From Norwich starts a National Cycle way called Marriots Way. Goes all the way to Taverham. About 26 miles long. One of the longest traffic free routes in the UK. Imagine a tiny road, with no cars in sight through country side, through fields of wheat and dense trees, with the river sometimes touching it sides. Families out in droves cycling. Dogs walking their people. Locals pretending to fish. Sections of Marriots Way are built along an unused railway line. Sometimes, it almost feels like luxury to be riding along this road.

Horsford Forest is full of conifer trees. Densely packed in neat rows. Nothing but conifers, which is rare in the UK. I havent seen these trees growing atleast in England. Anyway, in all of the forest, there was no one but me. And it wasnt scary. It was a great place for some deep comtemplation - trying to seek the answers to all the fundamental questions in the universe. Unfortunately, there was no one around to do it for me.

The day was capped by an intellectual caper - Dukes of Hazzard.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

God Bless America

I can't help be glad that another tragedy has hit American shores. I mean, I am not a sadist, who roots for Osama and the Taliban's fanatical mission against the west. That I completely abhor. But to a lesser extent, I also dislike USA's holier than thou attitude, embodied so cockily by His Lowness, George W Bush.

This country (as referred to, by Bush so often) wants to go about changing the world through military aggression and regime change, but can't get its rescue mission in some semblance of organization. For 5 days, the people of Gulf Coast were waiting desperately for help. When the govt realises, it is too late. It makes a show of strength sending in a long snaking convoy with aid and food. Twice he has visited the hurricane hit regions and yet he hasnt gone to New Orleans, the worst hit town.
You have policemen shouting on TV venting spleen about other cops who ran away (they may be dead, you know), you have a politician breaking down completely(newsreaders did it after September 11). Americans have forgotten that life is not a soap opera and you dont need to perform all the time. But, understatedness and composure is not an American virtue.

Also, the US media, in such times of total govt failure should have seized the opportunity to rip the President apart. Any free press or opposition would use this chance to attack the government and point out its glaring inadequacies. When your countrymen don't criticize you for obvious mis-demeanours at home, you have gumption to go eavesdrop on other nations' businesses.

The bravado and the high-handedness of USA irritates you and if only, something happens to destroy these delusions of granduer, you could rest a little easy.
They say USA is an easy target. No wonder.

BTW, this is exactly what I wanted to happen in Mumbai. Except the loss of life, of course. New Orleans was certainly a city of character and had its own mood. The city where jazz was born. So, people would say all that heritage would be destroyed. I don't know about New Orleans. Mumbai might have a character. I am sure it does. But character apart, it is a city infested with pain, suffering, deceit, greed, callouness. So there is more to get rid of than keep.

I am happy if Katrina pays a visit to Mumbai, invited.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Slimes of India no more

This news (requires subscription) from Business World makes me very happy

...In publishing, the same fear has a different colour. The launch of DNA and Hindustan Times in Mumbai probably did not shake Bennett, Coleman and Company (BCCL) as much as the HT Media IPO has. In August this year, HT Media raised about Rs 400 crore, catapulting it among the top ten media IPOs in Asia over 2004 and 2005. This follows two rounds of private equity funding and gives HT Media a valuation of Rs 2,495 crore or over 90 times earnings.

This is very worrying for the Rs 1,808-crore BCCL, India's largest media company. For decades, its biggest strength has been its cash reserves. BCCL has used it to batter Hindustan Times in Delhi, or bleed rivals in other cities. For decades, nobody could match its brute cash power. Now as investors fall in love with media and entertainment (M&E), the money wall is crumbling...

We moved from Indian Express to Hindustan Times, some while ago. I still love IE, but no one can deny that it is a boring newspaper. HT had a great launch offer and so we jumped on it.

I found HT to be far better than TOI, in terms of coverage and depth of analysis. I also think Mumbai Mirror is a good newspaper, but that's just to a part of pre-emptive step from TOI to kill competition. I do hope through that Mumbai Mirror lasts beyond the first round of attack.

The point is TOI has thrived and cannibalised its competitors based on solid financial muscle, so HT having more in its cash kitty is more than welcome news. I hope TOI bites the dust on its home turf.

My earlier rant here

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Long weekend

The plan was to go to Isle of Wight or Scotland or wherever for the long weekend. Alas, things didnt work out and I was forced to spend the 3 days mostly in my own company. I have emerged more elightened, better tuned with my inner feelings (no, I am not into lingerie) and in peace with myself (A smile is born)

Not that it wasnt bad. Saturday, it was mostly milling around at the Forum. Caught some silly magic show and a great country band - with banjo, cello, saxophone and flute. They would be talking over, above, under the lyrics, interspersed with funny funny comments. Like there was a song "I am in the mood for love". One of the few slower numbers the band played. And at one time, the lead singer went "I am in the mood for love (or some casual sex)".Saxophone and flute was helmed by a woman and was she brilliant.

It was an energetic, taut and highly enjoyable fare.

Evening, checked out Royal Theater on an open house tour. Then went bowling with roomie and for the first time crossed the score of 100. And then repeated the performance. I think I am getting into the groove and now have got the basics right. Not that bowling is difficult, but then, with the long lane (62 feet) and heavy ball, it is so easy to go into the gutter.

Sunday, went to Whitingham Country Park. The project has won an award for environmental planning. I am not surprised. The project was supposed to provide building material (stone gravel) for major construction work in Norwich like the Castle Mall and other road work. Here's a pic of the original site.

And now, its just a secluded park with a huge lake where people come to relax, or practise/learn kayaking, canoeing, sailing, boating. There is a pathway along the periphery with lots of nodes for fishing, bird-watching. It is just breath-taking. It almost got me a feel of the Broads. Its wonderful how nature reclaims what belongs to her, but you should let her.

The weekend I finally mastered the sudoku conundrum. For some reason, didn't take to it earlier and now its hard to ignore a sudoku.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Old York and sad lessons!

Back from York. Just had some process walkthrough meetings with Business Analysts. Didnt get much time to explore the city. The one thing that I learnt (or was corroborated) was that, it is a pain to deal with adults.

Life turns us into selfish, conniving, inconsiderate bastards without giving us an inkling about it. It is quite scary how delusional most of us are about ourselves

I do not know how much importance to attach to this, or to ignore it altogether. May be its a crazy co-incidence. After all, no one seems to notice or doesn't care (living in their own delusions?), so why should I? The catch is that, exposing such psycotic behaviour somehow makes you into a manipulative and insecure person. So day-to-day innocous acts of inhuman-ness go unheeded.

I shall delude yourself that everything is alright

Sunday, August 21, 2005

my bike

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Truth be damned!

With reference to Mangal Pandey - The Rising, there was a discussion thread raising concerns about historical accuracy in period films. Even though my response below might sound that I am in favour of free cinematic license, total disregard for history is not what I recommend. E.g. to show Shivaji as a complete coward or British Empire as epitome of benevolence would be a travesty of facts. But to exaggerate certain traits or events especially when there is lack of authentic information about them, is not criminal. I dislike the fact that we don't care to capture or document history well enough and then it's bound to leave glaring holes in knowledge about our past - even important events like the First War of Independence. Should film-makers disregard such important events, just because we don't know enough. I don't think so. if anything, we need more films with facts extrapolated with imaginative fiction, so people atleast get a sense of what actually happened.

There is a phrase that goes something like 'History is not how it happened, but how it was recorded'


Was just watching Shakespeare in Love the other day. Now, I can hardly claim to be the literary types, but here is a movie, that is intelligent, funny and cool. Don't be weighed down the fact that Shakespeare was another lesson in college. There are extremely witty dialogues, great screenplay (Romeo and Juliet starts as a comedy because comedy is what audience wants) and fabulous direction.

It would not have happened had the writer (Mark Norman and Tom Stoppard) fictionalized the whole account and added there own bold inventive touches.
About how Shakespeare's affair comes to fundamentally shape Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare has been shown to be inadvertently responsible for Christopher Marlowe's (his contemporary) death. The exchange of roles (Viola in disguise playing Romeo and a guy playing Juliet) due to restrictions on women at that time. Even 'the rose by any other name' is attributed to a sermonising priest.

There is an urchin who constanly makes references to death and gore. I looked up John Webster, his name and lo and behold, a master of tragedy and contemporary of Shakespeare.

Just reading the dialogues will have you rolling in the aisles

Anyway, does any of this need to be true? No, because, on its own merits, Shakespeare in Love is an awesome movie. It humanizes the playwright and throws light on the fact that he could be a wife-cheating plagiariser(masterful one at that) rather than a serious dour wordsmith.

Monday, August 15, 2005

More more more!

I was out last week to make a spare key. The old man just put the key in the machine and in 5 seconds flat, the replica was out. How much did it cost? 4 pounds! 2 keys for 6 pounds. I know that it costs £60 per hour for a plumber. The Indian IT companies charge around $20-30 per hour in India and $60 (i.e around £40) per hour for onsite resources. Kya haisiyat hai hamari!

I bought a duvet (rajai) last week for £9 and the cover cost me £12. Isn't that funny? What's more, if I were to send the duvet to laundry, it would cost me the same as buying it new.

There is no place in the house where you can wash your clothes. There is just the bath-tub, but forget thumping and pounding clothes dhobi style. Everyone has a washing machine fitted as part of the furniture. And I doubt if people remember the manual way of washing clothes.

If British were Indian, they would have saved more, as manufactured goods are so cheap here, in relative terms. When I mean relative, it is better to factor in respective salaries rather than just convert currencies.

As this article so accurately points out, recycling and repairing is going out of style majorly. The developed countries are such voracious consumers that I don't think, in spite of all visible signs and audible noises about recycling, much of that happens here. Recycling is hardly as profitable here as it is in developing countries (labour intensive and new material available cheaply), so I think, most of the garbage and scrap is dumped, surreptitiously in third world countries.

People hardly bother about repairing their old stuff here, because there are no repair shops. DIY is the buzz word when it comes to doing the house (painting, plumbing, cleaning) coz who can afford. So basically, you may be richer here, but all the menial tasks that you hate and for which you wanted a helping hand and thought you could now afford..., well, you won't get it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Not too bad!

It may seem like I am excessively ranting (rantyly ranting). It's not that I think the world is conspiring against me. Mostly, good things in life don't inspire you enough to write glowing praises about them. We are anyway not known to appreciate positive things in life and wallow in negativity.

I forgot to mention about this weekend's trip to Sheringham. Nice walk by the beach. We sat where the DJ was mixing on top of a cafe. I juggled with sea-side pebbles. Then, the DJ called on the little kids and they started dancing to the Macarena. Some more college students joined and it was impromptu dancing (not that Macarena steps are difficult). Then some more tunes for which the guys knew the steps. It wasn't that sunny, but the smiles all around were.

From there we climbed up the beach onto a cliff. The old guys were playing golf (brilliantly) on this huge golf course. We walked parallel to the golf course close to the cliff. There was a watch tower run on charity and John was keeping a watch. Just as he was telling us the intracacies of his job, there was a May Day on his radio. John said, it isn't often that there are may-days. We sat there with an awesome view of the sea side. There were some sandmartins with nest burrowed along the side of the cliff.

We proceeded to walk through the Sheringham Park. Rhododendrons are what the people go there for. But that's in spring and there ain't any now. But it was fabulous with golden fields (Deepak insisted it was wheat!) on one side and trees on the other. Though UK is loads of greenery (it rains a lot) but dense forests are rare. The Sheringham forest is thickly wooded. So its great the visit such parks here (Seven Sisters Park near Brighton, Lake District).


Just today I bought a bike. Its GT Avalanche, humble compared to some Saracens and Rayleighs you get to see here. But its flourescent green and I love it. It has ruined my trousers, but now there is wind in my sails.

P.S. - Not too bad exemplifies british way of understating things. Responding to a 'How are you?', the Brit who has just won million pounds in lottery would say 'Not too bad!'

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Race to the finish

Haven't faced this so far, but I am scared.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Control + Alt + Delete

Just the other day, I was ranting about my company policies of not having CDroms and floppy drives disabled. Welcome to the Dark Age.

I am in Norwich and at client side. (If you are smart, it won't be difficult for you to guess the client's name) Anyway, the utter shock to see first hand how things are done!

1. PC crash - The time given to resolve the call was a day. A day? Then the guy comes and tells me that it will take 2 days to rebuild the PC. What I am supposed to do meanwhile? Play Goti? In any decent IT company, the helpdesk guy would take minutes to attend to the call and few hours to give me a replacement PC.

I cannot even locate the IT help system online and have to call up helpdesk for every call and update.

2. Internet access - Fortunately, we got it the next day. but for the earlier guys it took about a month to get net access. You won't find anything majorly wrong in this, but to note that the client mail doesn't allow you to send external mails. It's as good an isolation you'll ever find. So how can you mail offshore to get your work done? You can't.

3. Clean desktop -Did I tell you about the desktop security here? Its autocratic. You don't see control panel, No Start-->run, no explorer (Flag+E doesn't work), you don't see desktop icons! Of course, forget admin access- thats only for God. Such smothering of personal freedom at workplace is not due to well thought out security policies, its more laziness to find solutions and work-arounds to possible threats by hackers or through viruses. Ignorance in finding out whether there is threat at all. e.g. we use the divine Lotus notes (upgrading from Outlook to Lotus Notes 4.5) and the address book is not active. Possibly, I could locate who the head of the client company is and behead him?
Can having desktop icons be a threat? How can disabling explorer, search and run functionality benefit security? In hampering resource productivity like this (forget the fact that PCs have highly antiquated configuration), we inch dangerously close to zero output - which would warm the cockles of the Infrastructure and Security guys - Zero calls logged, zero breaches of security.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Losing in real life

BTW, Bought two C&H books from a Charity Shop

The days are just packed

There's treasure everywhere

Cost me £4.5 for both. Quite a steal, eh? :-)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

What are you saying?

Had to call the HSBC to check my debit card status (local account). First time, I called, there was someone called Sarita speaking in a neutral accent. She didn't know much about my problem, so she forwarded me to a local guy. Now, I think they had a look at the number from where I am calling - Norwich, transferred to a guy born and brought up in some far flung village of Norfolk. The accent was so horrible that couldnt understand most of what he said.

Even today, the woman on the line had such a strong local accent, that you need to really concentrate on what is being said.

Now, clearly, even the ordinary British must find it difficult to deal with these local call center representatives on a daily basis. Even earlier, most call centers were located in Ireland (lower costs) and Irish is not something that you get used to quickly. But these guys never complained about that. But are now complaining about strong Indian accents!

One point as my cab driver told me was the lack of understanding of local culture by call centers in India while trying to decipher the information the customer is passing on. Well, that would need more training, but don't cast aspersions on the whole BPO space.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I'm leaving on a jetplane

Have reached Norwich safe and sound. It wasnt a smooth sailing on Monday. The Sunday rains just wouldnt let up even on Monday. The ominous signs were there when some buildings around over locality started going under water. It was nightmare revisited.

Forgot my toothbrush, lost a key and couldnt locate my belt. We have been leaving like refugees in a vacant 3rd floor flat. So, things are a bit messy.

Plans were to move the stuff back, but seeing the rains on Monday, it was moving-packing redux.

The ride to the airport was horrendous. Two ricks were only ready to drop us to the airport for 300 rs each. A steal considering what lay ahead. The road was potholed like lunar surface. We reached Aarey Junction where policemen were stopping vehicles and asking people to go back in a typical babu way. The highway beyond Aarey Junction was blocked . What they should have been done was to explain clearly to people which de-tour to take in case he journey was really really necessary. In stead, it was plain rude 'Apne Apne ghar jaao'. Looking at the rains, I thought the same fate lay ahead at the airport and no flights would take off. I suggested we go back. But sis held on. The rick driver also felt, we should try another route from close to Goregoan station joining the highway near Goregoan Multiplex. It was a long route with flooded roads, but somehow we made it to the highway. Jusdt behind that point, water was gushing across the highway with a great speed. So obviously, vehicles couldnt ply there. But the police should have directed vehicles to this other route which we took.

After that, it was a smooth ride (relatively speaking). At places, the road was just plain washed away and we could see the path the sharp rivulets had cut into the tar road.

Somehow made it to the airport. Some minor luggage problems and I was on my way out of the deluge-city

Friday, July 29, 2005

Can you hear us?

Amish writes

Its pity that your 'apparently a curse'
came true but even more pity is that
India is still ruled by foreigners.

When recently there were blasts in UK,
all over Indian channels and Indian
news websites there were just stories
related to the UK blasts for 3 to 4
days. Whereas just after 1 day of this
calamity in Mumbai the news are hardly
visible on foreign websites. UK first
blast killed less than 80 and second
less than 10 and rain in Mumbai seems
to have killed 400. Still they dont
care. Its not news for them. India is
left on its own.

A lot can be written, lot is written,
will be written about this truth. But
noone cares, even I dont care, another
pity. :-(


I completely agree. I am watching CNN today and what are they covering. The arrest of terrorists involved in London bombings. They are covering it live with reporters in multiple locations detailed analysis.

Today, more people have died just due to stampede caused by tsunami rumors. Did they cover that. The amount of destruction and disruption caused just by these rains is comparable to damage to life and property (life less, property more) caused by tsunami in say Indonesia. Coz we are talking Mumbai, where population worth the whole of Australia stays in. But the coverage by the media is pathetic.

There is another shootout in Kashmir and no one is giving its due. In fact, that whats happening there directly derives from the same root is totally lost on the govt and foreign media. I don't see even Indian media trying to educate everyone on this terrorism issue and how bombings in London and Kashmir violence is closely linked.

Anyway, I digress. The home is in some decent shape now. We have thrown away a whole lot of furniture, clothes, food, mattresses. Some of the stuff is now beyond repairs. Electrical sockets are getting a cleaning using soft cotton ear-buds.

We are still staying in a vacant flat on 3rd floor - with 3 clothes lines to view from our crib. The car is the only item that remains unchecked for life. But when the headlights have dirty water inside them, you ought to be careful. Food comes from friend's home. Laundry at her neighbours. Still, life hai!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Enough of the rains

God seems to have taken my advice to heart. But, I didn't want my home to go under. Well, the Gods are angry and the apocalyptic downpour is not abating. Our home is Kandivli is submerged. Mom seems to removed most of the stuff, still the furniture, mattresses etc are now floating in a massive pool that covers most of Mumbai. Fridge is now lying tilted. The bowels of the car are being washed clean.

Dad is stuck in his office, sis in her college hostel and I am here in Pune. Mumbai-Pune expressway is clogged by traffic and landslides. I have been advised not to go to Mumbai now that large parts of the city are still under water and there is no connectivity. And its still raining.

Fortunately, mom and grand-dad were able to take refuge on 3rd floor. But the situation is extremely dangerous and tense. I hope the waters recede fast. This is the second time that this has happened to us. First, when we just moved to this place in 1992. Its nothing that we can't handle. But its extreme hard work cleaning all the muck, washing all the grime, throwing away rotting stuff, rebuilding the home.

But that can only happen when the rains stop. I hope that they do.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Big Brother is watching

Well, I told you that I am doing development these days on Informatica. The big problem is that I cannot play any music.

When you are doing repititive tasks at the PC, it's easy for me to concentrate with some music on. Each phase of my professional life is defined by the music I played then (sometimes even one song). It makes me feel nostalgic and old. I elevates me from the mundane. Anyway, work is the only time, I can listen to music of my choice and so, I feel shackled with the lack of mp3 on my desktop.

You see the 'Establishment' has decided that viruses are a big threat and so we must guard against them. How? Not only do we install the most expensive anti-virus, we will also disable the floppy drives, CD roms and USB ports. Isn't that like having a life-jacket but still not venturing in a lake, coz there may be sharks out there in the sea. What the hell is the use of all the anti-virus then?

At least these guys are smart. They haven't installed CD Rom and floppy drives on desktops.Unlike in Accenture, where they had it installed and disabled irrevocably.

Cmon, don't think I have started hating this place as well. People at the top who make all these moronic policies don't know how much it hurts at the ground level. They would think - well, the helpdesk can do the installation through secured PCs. It will takes just 5 minutes. But they don't realise that we need to do this EVERYTIME. I have seen the loss of productivity coz we couldnt install a software on time. It takes days to process helpdesk requests of these manner and the bottlneck just escapes the power-drunk policy makers.

You have an anti-virus, you have state-of-the-art snooping tools. You can easily find out who's the culprit who brought the virus in the network. Warn him. Repeat offenders, inject them with Hepatitis and/or throw them to the rabid wolves without Hepatitis. But for Devil's sake, let me listen to music and work.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Lost for words

Suddenly, it's as if I have nothing to write about. I have lost my inspiration. Words don't come easy (Stop! Stop!)

I have lost my gift.
It's as if my quill is broken. As if
the organ of the imagination has dried
up. As if the proud tower of my genius
has collapsed.

Not my words (as if). Shakespeare's expressing his grief to his shrink.

Anyway, lots of things happening. Am now working on Informatica, much beloved ETL tool. Looks quite silly. But, that's just the first impression. Soon, I will discover that it is sillier.

But it's true and I don't know why, I don't have sufficient things to write about these days. Hope something angers me soon enough for me to vent it out here.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Gay Abandon

Loads of work yesterday. Had to cancel the Prabalgad trek. I am trying to cram as much fun before the E-day. But, it's too late isnt it :-)

How can we be sure that the most important decision we take in life is correct. All the nit-picking analysis, all the weighings, all the consultations is just meaningless. Because, finally, you don't know. Coz we are talking of human behaviour. There's nothing objective about it. Whole lot of design and millions worth of development (new products, new interfaces, new services, new websites -IT case in point obviously) go down the drain because, humans prefer to do things a certain way, not the most correct/easiest/best way.

How a person is to you is so much dependent on how you are to that person. That requires a disregard for any negative first impressions, any doubts that you may harness. You just go ahead and accept the person as your friend, colleague, boss, partner, wife.

I think it is easiest to let things be. Not think too much about it. Not pre-judge.

Just let go and the ride would be great!

Verse not bad

Two updates (or should I say updations)

My verse won the Free Verse contest on company intranet. I don't know how many submitted their entries. But guess, I didn't do bad.

Accenture got back after 2 weeks delay with a generally vague response (according to my friends), and doesn't satisfy me completely as well. Prithvi Shergill tells me that my complaint has triggered multiple reviews. But I don't want Accenture to improve. I am no longer an Accenturion!!. The only concession that they made was that I was given the IDC Special Award installment due for May (though I quit 3 days before EOM) as a policy exception.

I will upload the response soon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Not on the right track

When did we start exporting train collisions to Pakistan.

And what happened to the plan of giving Lalu and Bihar to Pakistan in return for peace in Kashmir?

Excursions around Pune

A good list of places to visit around Pune is here.

Someone please add more and revert back

Thanks Shanya for the forward

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Scene: A flood affected area of Vadodara, Gujrat

Cast: Joint Commissioner of Police, K. Kumaraswamy, riding on the shoulders of a Constable to save his feet and trousers from Flood Water!!!

Source: The Indian Express, July 2

Why doesnt someone tie a boulder to K. Kumaraswamy's legs and drown him?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


A link to Dcubed, to understand why one rupee is too much.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Life still hai

Earlier, I hadn't mentioned the underpreparedness of some of us in facing the elements - three of us were without wind-cheaters. I had a rug sack with spare clothes and bedsheet wrapped in plastic. But all the pelting rain had made it soggy and heavy. I tried to control the amount of wetness with my umbrella, but not much help, was it?
During our brunch break, it was special to see the towering Lohagad fort face broken by miniature waterfalls during the downpour and once the rain subsided, so did the falls. On the way up to Visapur, we decided to take the shorter water route. Basically, it was a gurgling water stream flowing down and we had to climb to the fort up the stream. It wasn't too difficult again, except we found a lot of trekkers on their way down (Infoscions galore looking for 'cheap' thrills ;). So again, in about 30 min we were on the top of the fort. Vishwa rushed under a waterfall, trying to do a Mandakini without the white saree (but with his other clothes on). I tried the same (imagine!), but you couldnt stay long as the water was just too cold. Again the wind was mighty strong splitting the smaller falls, so that the water just sprayed back on the hills. Again difficult to gauge the exact boundaries of the fort coz of the instense fog.

'Life Hai, Life Hai, Life Hai, Life Hai' just became a slogan for the group, something to shout to express the delirious fun we were having. Vishwa the originator. But just because we came back safely doesn't take away what could have been a long ordeal.

We went to a slightly higher grounds just to see what was there. But this time, the wind has just picked up speed and you had to stand with feet wide apart just to be able to hold to the ground. A slight jump and you would land at least a feet away. Some team members were lost and found. Since the conditions started getting extreme, it was time to pack up and climb down. We just wanted to go back the same route we came, but in spite of encircling the whole place twice, we couldn't find it. Visibility was about 10 feet and I needed wiper on my glasses. An old man (later I found his name was Narendra) came rushing at us asking for directions. Sorry Sir, same boat. Soon his companions (Sheshadri and Viji) joined. They had been stranded for more than an hour and had made up their minds to stay the rest of the day and night at the top. They just wanted to go to the Hanuman Mandir, so they could spend the night there. Their guide, Ashok a local guy, himself was lost. A local guy, lost! People were scared.

We decided now to take the longer route, which possibly would be risky, but at least we knew where it was. This was no time for investigation and bravado. Forming a human chain, battling the thunderstorms, we moved to the exit. It was a proper stepped route at the start, but now overrun by gushing water. We started our journey down.

It was important for us to move away from the water-stream, because as we climbed down, the stream was increasing in force and volume rapidly. But there was no way. It was difficult to find a foothold. You didn't know how deep the water was and if your foot would land in the right place. At places, I was waist deep in water, my rug sack dipping in and coming back 1.5 times heavier. At the end of it, I had actually lost my sense of balance (not mental), coz that monkey on my back was weighing about 15 kgs (when I landed in Pune, I just couldn't lift it).

The sides were dense vegetation or slippery red mud, so you had to be in the stream all the time. At one point, we had to cross to the other side. It was were the water jumped 10 feet below and quick. Pankaj managed to find a perfect place to land one's foot on, and guided everyone to the other side. With some effort (damn bag!), I managed to cross. We were close to the foothills and Malavali looked close. But still it was about 45 min that we actually reached the village. The whole ordeal took about 2 hours.

All the while, Pankaj and Vinita, the pro-trekkers were ahed of the lot, but I was surprised that Narendra, age 55, managed to climb down without putting a foot wrong. And he was fast too. Turned out he is an old hand (or should I say leg) in trekking.
He and his companions luckily were on their way to Pune (rest of my gang to Mumbai), so I got a well deserved lift. Byes were bade and we took off. We stopped on the way for some great onion bhajias, Poha, tea, vada pav and a recounting. Narendra took my number, to basically be updated about any new treks!

I live to trek another day.

Life Hai, Life Hai, Life Hai, Life Hai

Saturday was the most terrific and terrifying trek I have ever been too. Not that I have been to many. Its is a sad leitmotif that accompanies my life - Not done enough treks. It's almost like I am playing catch-up and desperately want to scale as many mountains and forts as possible, before I am over the hill. Important decisions in life are also being made, post which, treks generally become a thing of the past.
It turned out that there were two treks in the pipeline - Lohagad on Saturday and Rajgad on Sunday, by two separate teams. My fitness is decent these days thanks to the daily jog and in my greed to make the most of this time, I decided to enlist for both. I didn't know what was in store at Lohagad and Visapur (combined trek)
Anyway, we decided to leave on Friday night (Pandharpur - Mumbai Passenger 11.05 pm Pune). Pankaj, the veteran trekker joined me at Khadki. The rest of the guys would arrive from Mumbai. We reached Lonavla at about 1 am. And back to Malavali by the Mumbai-Pandharpur down train. There met all of the star trek crew - Vinita, the leader, Vishwa, my interlocutor, Surinder Suniel Shetty, Shabbir and Prem. This was the first time that I had met these people and what a lively group it turned to be. Actually, Mumbaikars in general are a pretty cool lot , very animated and it's difficult not to bond immediately.
The plan was to catch a few winks till break of day, but with cold night rains, that was difficult. We were able just able to rest a while, and it was 6 am. Time to move. Reached Baaja, a tiny hamlet at the foothills of Lohagad and Visapur. Had a light breakfast and marched on for the trek. Surinder and Vishwa wanted to frolic under the first waterfall that they saw. But, most disagreed, so we kept on. The starting patch to Lohagad is almost a motorable road. At times, when the fog cleared you could get a glimpse of the towering Lohagad fort. From Lohawadi, it is a proper trek with steps. Soon we were at the top. The main entrance is just too spectacular. Gives almost a 270 degree view of the surrounding. All the fortress walls are intact. Even the straight steps at Ganesh Darwaaza, that lead up to the fort from there have an air of royalty. You have the normal essentials like hidden entrance with wavy walls (making it uncomfortable to use a ram on the door), chor darwaza, hidden spaces for mavlas to attach the enemy, double tatbandi (fort walls). Here is an excellent site about Lohagad. It was difficult to make out the entire structure because of the intense fog, but still you know that it is not a small fort. On the top, you had at least two water sources (a well the size of a pond, which we dared not go to). There was a Shiv temple and a dargah at the top which was the only protection against the rain. On the top, the rain was pelting like thousand needles from all directions except the top. The wind was a swirling mass, pushing the rain upwards and sideways, it was as if we were in a wind tunnel on an overdrive. It was nature at its bestial. The craziest water ride, still would be no match for what we experienced at the Shiv temple.
We decided we wanted to go back alive, so lugged our bags and were back on our way down. At the foothills (Lohawadi?) we had extended eating brunch gorging on besan-heavy onion bhajjis, poha, tea, coffee (spectacular), bread and biscuits. It was 12.00 pm and the other groups were just starting their climb up. Worked great for us coz we had lesser crowds at the top of the fort as well as at the tapari. Call was taken if we wanted to go to Visapur, Junta had doubts as the weather was still vicious. Still most of the people were game (Shabbir remarked that it was game over for him, but he was joking too).
We didnt know how dangerous our decision to go Visapur way would be.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

News of the day

Well, it is that Vivek Paul has quit Wipro. Where he is going no one knows, but his post has still not be filled up. Anyway, there were some rumours going around when he joined the board of directors of Electronic Arts. But that is just an ornamental post compared to what he did and managed at Wipro. He might as well be playing FIFA 2006 Beta version at EA.
Vivek Paul was almost as synonymous with Wipro as Azim Premji and played a crucial part in taking it to the next level. He will be sorely missed, I guess. Of course, some of his trusted lieutenants will also exit with him. So, it's going to a big upheaval at the top. Hope everything settled soon (my stake is only some shares, you see :-).

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

IT Pheels Good

Cnet is covering India's tech renaissance through a special report
Day 1 is here.
Day 2 is here

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Accenture, India - No one's job

I was promised that my concerns will be addressed by 24th June. That's 12 days to look at the issues I raised and confirm if my hue and cry is really valid.

Well, no response reaffirms my allegations. That's typical of Accenture.

Am searching for a way to make my complaint mails public

PS. Here is the official mail that I sent.

Here is the spleen.doc

Friday, June 24, 2005

Unleashing mayhem

Its raining heavily in Mumbai. Just yesterday, I was discussing a revitalisation plan for Mumbai with a friend (I could prepare a proposal, if you want). You know, evacuate all the citizens (Citizens of Mumbai! You have to leave. NOW!). Arrange for a nuclear explosion at the bottom of the sea some 10 kms from Mumbai, ensuring no nuclear fallout and deaths due to radiation. The subsequent Tsunami waves should cause total obliteration of Mumbai and its suburbs- a slate wiped clean.The water should wash all over Mumbai and drain out from the eastern side along the creeks. All the monstrous skyscrapes gone, all the slums vanished. All the temples caved in. All the mosques flattened. All the church bells all the bottom of the sea or silt. The tetrapods of Marine drive will be found at Vashi. The spindly railway tracks looking like earthworms slashed and quartered by devilish kids. The city would be a heap of crumpled metal, debris and brackish sea silt. But for a city floating on 10 meters of land-mass, it's welcome addition. Burying the past right beneath, stamping out the excesses, the barbarity and acts of inhumanity. Starting afresh - with a clean slate. A, B, C...M for Mumbai. Somebody should cover the disaster live. Destruction of the city.
It is anyway a ghost town, a megalomanic city whose soul is long dead. In the quest for lucre, people were trampling on others, fighting for space, being inhumane or indifferent, just barely surviving. The city had itself taken a form of a uncontrollable monster, with its own mind, surreptiously enslaving its people - making them think that its alright to slog, suffer, scour, bear, beg, grovel now, because there will be a better tomorrow when they will be free from all this. Of course, there is no tomorrow for Mumbai. There never was. Those who realise what there were trapped in, work harder, just so that they can get out of it. And those who can't, romanticize the misery.
Anyway, so when the destroying is done, then build the city from its ashes. Brick by brick. Need by specific need. Invite people on case by case basis. Isolate the island. Allow along specific port of entries for people who want to start their lives again. Monitor who and what goes in. For that will decide, what becomes of the city. A more diabolical version of the earlier monster or a living, pulsating space, which is a tribute to the human spirit. One we claimed Mumbai embodied, but never did.
All this will require planning on a massive scale and will take a period of almost 10 years for the city to resurrect. It needs to be well-thought out, the nuclear explosion has to be just right and needs to be simulated using some advanced computer programs Biztact  and BARC could help), else the waves will rise as high as Pune (Nnnnnnnnnooo!!!!).
The idea I propose is presposterous. Its partly is derived from this character Ra's Al Ghul, who I first came across in Batman - The Animated Series and have been fascinated ever since. I had long forgotten the name, but I didn't know even after watching Batman Begins that he was responsible for partly shaping the character of Batman himself.
The point is that the idea is far fetched and may sound batty. But if we don't act now, then nature is going embark on its own balance-restoring mechanism and destruction will happen anyway. Unfortunately, we won't be prepared then.
Probably the rains will never stop.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


People always say that I go ga-ga over Pune. Well, all's not swell. People crib about the traffic. Yes, it is awful, but it hardly affects me. Anyway, the worst part about Pune is surely the power supply. Its not like some random problem which keeps recurring. As a part of load-shedding, every day, there is no power between 3 to 7 pm. And then also alternate nights, no power till I leave. Which means bathing with cold water (brrr...). This mandated load-shedding apart, there are many occasions, where electricity keeps going. Now, Pune is no longer a small town to afford that kind of supply shortage. Surely, Maharashtra Govt. has been napping big time all this while.

Just to think of all the financial loss that happens. And it cannot be small. Small industrial units, which do not have backup generator have their work stalled. No output and workers still to pay! People don't venture out during powerless nights. Meaning, lesser business for traders, shop owners, businessmen. Economy grinding to halt (and then we keep complaining why our GDP doesn't cross 7).

Now, the government has created a high level committee headed by Dr. Mashelkar to look into the alternate power sources. Now, just a few months back, there was a malicious attempt to halt a wind-power project somewhere in Maharashtra. The reason being given that, it has led to fall in rain-fall. Now, surely, you must be joking. Rainfall is dependent on the atmospheric conditions atleast 500 meters above the ground . To say that some scattered windmills can check the advancement of rain clouds is preposterous. Anyway, the point is that, any new implementation is stymie by these pea-brained people. The power shortage is going to give the government to revive the Enron project, whose power is still going to be unafforable for the government to purchase. All in the name of the lucre.

Good thing here, due to power shortage, people have moved to solar water heaters in a big way. Still space is still affordable and many people own row houses/bungalows, you can find many such heaters installed on the terrace. Solar power is something that we need to pursue fanatically, if we want to move away from the traditional (and environment damaging) energy sources.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The city goes with you

The City
                                                        -Constantine Cavafy

You said, "I will go to another land, I will go to another sea.
Another city will be found, better than this.
Every effort of mine is condemned by fate;
and my heart is -- like a corpse -- buried.
How long in this wasteland will my mind remain.
Wherever I turn my eyes, wherever I may look
I see the black ruins of my life here,
where I spent so many years, and ruined and wasted."

New lands you will not find, you will not find other seas.
The city will follow you. You will roam the same
streets. And you will age in the same neighborhoods;
in these same houses you will grow gray.
Always you will arrive in this city. To another land -- do not hope --
there is no ship for you, there is no road.
As you have ruined your life here
in this little corner, you have destroyed it in the whole world.
Thanks Middle Stage for the link.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Cellular Gel (no reason :)

Saturday caught Parineeta. It basically took the end of the movie to register the fact that the female lead's (Vidya Balan) name was Lolita and not Parineeta. I realized then Parineeta signifies what she is (married).
I went with very high hopes - what with news about IIFA accolades and 4 star reviews. Well, the movie is certainly above average, good overall, but still it left me disappointed. It's just a love triangle and there's only so much you can do with a love triangle. The acting by Saif Ali Khan and Vidya Balan is great. The newcomer is a great addition to the set of Bollywood actresses who emote in a typical Indian way. Yet, hardly over the top.
The fact remains Bollywood patios is threatened in trying to cater to global audience and yet present stories rooted in the traditional ethos. I am pretty sure, even the hip generation of 60's didn't use English as shown in the movie (I need to watch the movie again to highlight the bits that sounded anachronistic). There is a strong predisposition to make the characters say the most crucial dialogue (usually emotionally charged ones) in English. It's just done so that the hip generation of the 60's appears cooler to today's hip generation (I am so hip that I can't look above my shoulders. Did he say?). And in doing that, I don't think the movie is true to that period anymore. Indian Express review also points out the incorrect use of Salwar Kameez (though it looks cooler than Bengali Sari).
Good things about the movie - generally devoid of histrionics (except the climax), great cinematography, great acting, generally good song picturisations (why not use a baby doll instead of senior citizen Rekha for the awesomely sung "Kaise Paheli" ).
One of the reasons I possibly didn't like the movie was that, the cellphones kept constantly ringing in the moviehall. Now, still, just like the honking on the road, it's just not registered with the Indian audience that its extremely uncivilized to not keep your cell on silent. Well, we continue to plumb the depths and discover new vilestones by not only brazenly disturbing others with loud ringtones, but then going on to chatting into the phones, as if everyone around were dead. The cells just kept on ringing, and most people found nothing wrong about it to complain to the errer. Possibly, people don't watch movies with total surrender that one should and don't seem to mind a distraction. But that can't be true when people seem to adore the escapism in our films, which requires surrender of belief and almost serves as emotional catharsis for the aam-junta. Whatever, it is, it is exasperating to plod all the way to the theatre, buy expensive tickets and then have the whole experience shattered by some cultural ignoramuses.
But I am going to come back to the theory about total surrender. I believe we are not capable of it - allowing oneself to let go - to allow for a considerably heightened sense of enjoyment of the art/activity at hand - except when the activity is of religious nature. Possibly, will try arguing the case some day - some day when words are at mercy of my thought.